12 November 2009

thankfulness - homeschooling

As I've mentioned before, we decided to homeschool Little B at the end of second grade. I had never, ever considered it before because I was sure I could not handle it. But by this time I could no longer handle sending him to school each day, only to see him come home in a deep funk full of frustration and anger. Here is a bit of what led up to such a big decision for us:

My son is very sensitive and fairly "high needs." He's also incredibly intelligent. He struggles with the atmosphere a classroom provides and that resulted in a whole lot of difficult days. The first day after spring break probably was pretty typical for him. Most likely, by the time he was asked to do his least favorite assignment ever - log about a book he'd read - he had been picked on and bullied; survived lunch with the intense loudness that accompanies any typical lunchroom, but is especially overwhelming to him; no doubt been reminded to stay on task several times; and was feeling as though he was worthless and couldn't do anything right. His teacher was known to bend over backwards to help him, so she was never the source of his problems, though he didn't understand that at the time.

That is only a tiny taste of what led up to the point in his day when he once again fell apart. I know this sound ridiculous to some, like a lack of discipline to others. But for him, the world truly came crashing down at that moment. That assignment pushed him over the edge and he could no longer handle much of anything after the stressors he'd worked around and tried to cope with all day. Simply put, it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

And so on this day of all days, Little B was yelling at his teacher that he had an escape plan if she wouldn't listen. Now, she did listen - every single day - but logging wasn't something she could waive just for him. I understand that. In Little B's mind, though, he just couldn't handle another day of forced writing about something that was already written down in the book (he thinks that if you want to know, you should read the book...I understand that, too). And he escaped by trying to run away from school.

Why? Because all he wanted was to go home to his bed, away from the source of his stress, and calm down. That spoke so loudly to me. And during the week of suspension that ensued, I enforced the discipline they chose, but at the same time we began talking about homeschooling. The following Monday he was allowed to go back to school, but we withdrew him instead. And I have never looked back.

I am thankful for a thousand things in this. I'm thankful his class had a door to the outside that tempted him because it made me stop and listen really carefully to how I could meet his needs.

I'm thankful I no longer feel building anxiety as I check my email 5-10 times a day wondering if his teacher has emailed me to let me know of his latest struggle in class (she did that at my request).

I'm thankful that though I must toe the line with him particularly on hard days, a hard day homeschooling (and we have them in spades, believe me) simply doesn't compare to even an average day in public school. In fact, on the hardest days of all, I am more deeply thankful that he is at home with me versus sitting embarrassed and angry at himself in front of 17 other kids and other grown ups.

I'm thankful for:

the increase in flexibility,

the decrease in stress,

the increase in time with my son,

the decrease in time spent on school assignments,

the increase in enjoyment of learning.


Donnetta said...

First let me say I am thrilled and thoroughly enjoying your more frequent blogging! :-)

As for the homeschooling I can completely relate to this post! So many days I wonder why we didn't start doing it a lot sooner!?

Thanks for the reminder that even the roughest days homeschooling are still better than some of the best days in the classroom!

Hannah said...

Yea! Hooray for homeschooling! I never responded to your comment in our email exchange about this, but I wanted wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment that homeschooling is actually *less* stressful than dealing with the fallout from a BAD fit at school. It really makes me feel for the kids whose parents aren't able or willing to give them that option ... But I'm glad you were both!